(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), 10 January 2006, spoke with US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, who had telephoned in order to be updated on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s condition.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert updated US Secretary of State Rice on Prime Minister Sharon’s condition. He said that he had spoken with Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital Director Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef and added that he was encouraged by the reports of an improvement in the Prime Minister’s condition.

US Secy. of State Rice said that they were praying for the Prime Minister, and noted that the US continues to be committed to the security of the State of Israel and would not allow negative elements to exploit Israel’s internal state in order to escalate the situation. She emphasized that the US stood behind all of its understandings with Prime Minister Sharon regarding the Roadmap and US President George Bush’s two-state vision.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel was concerned by the rise of Hamas, continued terrorism and the ineffectualness of Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority (PA). He added that in light of the PA’s explicit commitment to disband Hamas and its infrastructures after and as a result of the elections, Israel would not give the Palestinians any excuse for postponing the elections and evading this commitment. The Acting Prime Minister said that on Sunday, 15 January 2006, he would submit for Cabinet approval the issue of voting by several hundred eastern Jerusalem Arab at Postal Authority branches, as was done in the 1996 and 2005 PA elections, it being clear that terrorist organizations and their representatives will be unable to participate in the elections in Jerusalem.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert thanked US Secy. of State Rice for her telephone call and asked that she convey his appreciation to US President Bush and to the American people for the support and solidarity that they are showing for Israel at this sensitive time.